Madrid: La Liga leaders Real Madrid face one of their toughest tests since embarking on a 22-game winning streak back in September when they start 2015 with a trip to Valencia on Sunday.Los Che have reason to be optimistic in the new year with a return to Champions League football for next season top of their agenda.
Valencia sit fourth, a solitary point above Sevilla, Villarreal and Malaga, but demonstrated their financial advantage over the other Champions League hopefuls following Singaporean businessman Peter Lim’s recent acquisition of the club by splashing out 25 million euros (£19.4 million, $30 million) on Argentine international midfielder Enzo Perez this week.
Barcelona take on Sociedad
Barcelona start the year just a point adrift of Real at the top, but having played a game more. The Catalans also face a potentially tricky trip away to David Moyes’s Real Sociedad on Sunday and have had little time to prepare for the game as a group following the Christmas break. Lionel Messi, Neymar and Dani Alves only returned to training on Friday, while the latter remains a doubt due to a hamstring injury.
“We respect Barcelona because they are a very good team, but they are coming to San Sebastian and we have to show them this is not an easy place to come and win. My players have already shown that they are capable of beating Barcelona,” said the Scot.